Tag Archives: Human Rights

UNOCHA: Five things you need to know about the crisis in Ukraine

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – unocha.org – ©2015 Reprinted with the permission of the United Nations – also appeared at unocha.org/top-stories/all-stories/five-things-you-need-know-about-crisis-ukraine – June 29, 2015 ) “We can make a difference … but we do need to get the funds,” said UN Resident Coordinator Neal Walker on Friday at a New York Headquarters Briefing on […]

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Communists Storm Out of Moscow Duma Hearing on Monument to Feared Secret Police Chief

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 25, 2015) The Moscow City Duma courted controversy Wednesday with its determination that a proposed referendum question on the restoration of a monument to feared Soviet secret police chief Felix Dzerzhinsky was consistent with the law. But Dzerzhinsky – a Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the dreaded Cheka secret police, which […]

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Moscow Edges Closer to First Referendum Since Soviet Collapse

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 23, 2015) Moscow looks set to get its first referendum in post-Soviet times – and one of the burning issues on the ballot will be the restoration of a monument to the founder of the secret police to central Moscow. On June 11, the Moscow election committee approved the Communist Party’s […]

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UN Says Ukraine War Made Russia Top Asylum Destination

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – June 18, 2015) A United Nations report says Russia became the world’s single largest recipient of asylum requests last year as a result of the war in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists. The figures also show that Russian authorities are being far more lenient toward Ukrainians than toward applicants from other countries. […]

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Interfax: Chechen leader on Nemtsov murder, investments, oil, Ukraine, marriage

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – June 18, 2015) The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has suggested that the murderers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov should be sought in Ukraine, rather than in Chechnya. He praised his region’s economic potential and oil reserves. Kadyrov also slammed Committee Against Torture Russian human rights organization, accusing them of following the West’s guidelines to Russia’s detriment. […]

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‘Almost No One in Russia Wanted Real Democracy with Division of Powers,’ Gudkov Says

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 14, 2015) Vladimir Putin and his regime are a logical reflection of the fact that “almost no one [in Russia] wanted a real democracy with division of power and a vital civil society,” according to Levada Center head Lev Gudkov. Consequently, it is possible to say that “Russians have received what […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Remarks at the October Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine

Samantha Power file photo adapted from image at state.gov

(Ukraine United States Mission to the United Nations – Remarks at the October Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine – Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Kyiv,  – June 11, 2015) AS DELIVERED Dobry den. Thank you all so much for being here. As Tamila said, I represent the United States at the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council, the body whose job […]

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Banned if they do, banned if they don’t; Unable to change things in their own country, Russians are quietly leaving for good – but they will still check out Crimea

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – June 11, 2015) Each week in Russia some obscure Duma deputy no one has ever heard of before proposes a new law. Usually, the proposal gets instant and almost unanimous approval of the legislative body and within days becomes law, signed by the head of state. Usually it’s a […]

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Medvedev Promises No Blacklist for Foreign Journalists Working in Russia

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Houssam Alissa – June 12, 2015) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev condemned foreign countries who blacklist Russian journalists Thursday and said Russia has no intention of setting up its own blacklist, RIA Novosti reported, despite a series of recent incidents in which Western journalists have been prevented from working in Russia. Medvedev said the barring of […]

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‘Russians are the Soviet Slaves of Today,’ Panfilov Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 10, 2015) The Soviet system transformed the population of the USSR into slaves of a particular type, and “the present-day Russian slave is a direct descendent of the Soviet ones,” according to Oleg Panfilov, the director of the Center for Extreme Journalism (2000-2010) and now a professor at Georgia’s Iliya State […]

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Kremlin Critic Emerges From Coma

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – June 2, 2015) Friends and allies of prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., who mysteriously fell ill with poisoning symptoms in Moscow, say he has regained consciousness after a weeklong coma. “Vladimir has come out of a coma,” former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a June 2 tweet. Kara-Murza, 33, is a coordinator for Open […]

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Interfax: Probable Nemtsov murder weapon found

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – June 3, 2015) The police have found a handgun which probably killed opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a source familiar with the situation has told Interfax. “The murder weapon has been found and enclosed in materials in the proceeding, examinations are in progress,” he said. The source added that the detectives had found several handguns, each of which was […]

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Russian Constitutional Court says election monitor not “foreign agent”

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – May 27, 2015) Russia’s Constitutional Court has again stated that a non-governmental organization (NGO) does not have to declare itself as a “foreign agent” if it has not used funds sent to its accounts from foreign sources, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 27 May. The court made the statement, published on its website, in response to […]

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Russian Rights Activist Alexeyeva Returns to Kremlin Council

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 28, 2015) One of Russia’s best-known human rights advocates and the founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, has rejoined the Kremlin’s human rights council, saying she intended to look into the persecution of nongovernmental organizations under the country’s “foreign agents” law. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Tuesday appointing […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Russia Is Using Mobile Crematoriums to Hide Ukraine’s Dead

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Josh Rogin – May 26, 2015) Josh Rogin is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about national security and foreign affairs. He has previously worked for the Daily Beast, Newsweek, Foreign Policy magazine, the Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly and Asahi Shimbun. Russia is so desperate to hide its military involvement in Ukraine that it has brought […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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NEWSLINK UNIAN: Ukrainian prisoners in Donbas made slaves in Chechnya, relatives say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

From 400 to 700 Ukrainians captured in the Donbas conflict zone have been taken to Russia, and many sold into slavery in Chechnya, Ossetia and Adygea, according to an open letter of the relatives of prisoners to the Russian human rights defenders published on the Web site of Open Russia public organization on Wednesday, a Ukrainian news broadcaster has reported. […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Boris Nemtsov’s last act of courage

Nemtsov March of Mourning

IN THE final years of his life, Boris Nemtsov never gave up on politics in Russia, even when many others were discouraged or frightened away from standing up to President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Nemtsov, once in the front ranks of Russia’s post-Soviet reformers, in the last decade and a half became a persistent Putin critic. To some, he was a […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: Russian Court Quashes Latest Bid to Jail Kremlin Critic Navalny.

Alexei Navalny file photo

Reuters covers the latest attempt to jail Russian lawyer, whistleblower and opposition figure Alexei Navalny. A Moscow court on Wednesday rejected a bid by law enforcement officials to have Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for violating the terms of his suspended five-year sentence on embezzlement charges. Navalny, who led mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in 2011-2012, denies any […]

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In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer – May 13, 2015) Expectant mothers in Moscow must wait as long as six weeks for ultra-sound scans, up from three days last year. Hospital outpatients pay for blood tests and X-rays that were free 12 months ago. And Marif Alekberov, a 27-year-old fireman with leukemia, is being told to find […]

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Nemtsov Report Says More Than 200 Russian Soldiers Killed In Ukraine War

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 12, 2015) [Report here https://openrussia.org/] More than 200 Russian military personnel have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, according to a report based on research begun by slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. The estimated death toll is one of the main findings of the much-anticipated report on Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which […]

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Russian ombudsman checks reports of servicemen being coerced to fight in Ukraine

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – Moscow, May 6, 2015) Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has not confirmed reports of Russian servicemen’s presence on the territory of Ukraine. “Inquiries concerning each of the incidents mentioned in the press had been sent to military prosecutors of military districts and directly to the chief military prosecutor. It follows from the official replies received by the […]

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BOOK REVIEW: The lessons Russia learnt in Chechnya

Chechen Militants file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nicholas Watson in Prague – April 22, 2015) “Russia’s Wars in Chechnya 1994-2009″. By Mark Galeotti, Osprey Publishing (2014). As Russia begins a new period of military adventurism, it’s an opportune time to review what happened when the country previously waged war in its backyard, so Mark Galeotti’s “Russia’s Wars in Chechnya 1994-2009″ is […]

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Civil Assistance NGO defies ‘foreign agent’ status, ready to go to ECHR

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – April 21, 2015) The Civil Assistance human rights organization will appeal the Russian Justice Ministry’s decision to assign it ‘foreign agent’ status. “Naturally, we will lodge an appeal against this decision with the district court,” the organization’s lawyer Kirill Koroteyev has said. “We will also request a suspension of the Justice Ministrys ruling because the filing of a […]

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Sixty percent of Russian citizens deem death penalty acceptable – poll

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – April 19, 2015) Sixty percent of Rusian citizens, compared to 80% in 2001, see the death penalty as an acceptable punishment, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation. The poll was held on April 11 and 12 among 1,500 respondents in 100 localities of 43 regions. Twenty-two percent of those polled, compared to 16% in […]

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Why Putin’s Next War Will Be at Home; A pollster and a former Putin adviser predict new popularity problems-and renewed focus on domestic enemies

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin appeared this week in his annual marathon television broadcast to answer questions posed by viewers from across Russia. Of course, the four-hour show, Direct Line With Vladimir Putin, was carefully choreographed to avoid anything that could embarrass the Russian leader. But that doesn’t mean the broadcast shied away […]

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‘Optimization’ of Health Reform Causing Russian Mortality Rate to Rise

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 15, 2015) Russia’s attempts to reform its health services have resulted in a larger number of people in hospitals dying and an increased mortality rate in the country in general, a report by the government’s accounting agency said. The hospital mortality rate increased by 2.6 percent last year compared to the […]

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Why Russia watchers should listen to Glenn Greenwald

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(opendemocracy.net – Philip Evans, Associate Editor at oDR – April 2, 2015) Elites throughout the former Soviet Union are cracking down on dissent. But before Russia watchers start criticising the region’s repressive governments, they should first engage with the criticism, which has long been levelled at them. From Minsk to Astana, elites throughout the former Soviet Union are clamping down on dissent as […]

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NEWSLINK Kyiv Post/Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Politicizing History: Parliament adopts Dangerously Divisive Laws

Rada File Photo

On April 9 Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted four laws pertaining to Ukraine’s recent history, two of which at least are highly contentious, with the manner in which they were presented to parliament and voted on also grounds for concern.  At a time when Russia is waging undeclared war against Ukraine, the need for unity is paramount.  Instead, a majority in […]

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NEWSWATCH The Herald (Scotland): No daughter can be restored. No leg can be replaced: our report from the frontline of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

The Herald and David Pratt examine some of the human costs of the conflict in Ukraine. Those who could afford it, or had somewhere else to go, got out when they could.   But often the most vulnerable — the elderly; infirm; poor; disabled — had no choice but to sit out the violence engulfing their community. Nadezhda Kalashnikova’s husband, […]

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Russian State Agency Accused of Funding Opposition Media

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 8, 2015) Russia’s Investigative Committee has reportedly demanded explanations about government subsidies to media that support opposition positions after a pro-Kremlin daily accused a government agency of supporting publications that pursue “clearly anti-state” policies. The report by the pro-government newspaper Izvestia on Tuesday named some of Russia’s best-known remaining independent-minded media […]

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Life behind the blockade in the Donetsk People’s Republic

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Yalovkina – April 7, 2015) The closure of the border between Ukraine and the Donetsk People’s Republic has divided communities, leaving people short of food and medicines. In January, after spending months trying to secure Donetsk’s airport, the Ukrainian authorities closed off all roads into the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Now residents of the towns and […]

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[CALL FOR PAPERS: State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders:] The Russian Sociological Review

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: The Russian Sociological Review Date: Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:47:05 -0500 From: Nail Farkhatdinov (farkhatdinov@gmail.com) The Russian Sociological Review (sociologica.hse.ru/en), an international peer-reviewed academic journal published by the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (www.hse.ru), invites contributions from philosophy, social sciences and cognate fields for the special issue entitled State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders. […]

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Russian Church Leader Says Stalin Fans Need to ‘Sober Up’ to Realities

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 7, 2015) A Russian Orthodox Church leader has urged supporters of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to “sober up” by visiting the mass graves of political dissidents executed under his regime, news reports said. The comments by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk came in response to poll results that showed a growing number of Russians view […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Closing the doors on a museum of political repression in Russia

St. Basil's Domes

The only museum of political repression set in an old Stalinist labor camp has closed, the latest casualty of the Russian government’s effort to silence independent voices. After a three-year struggle with the government of the Perm region, in the western foothills of the Ural Mountains, the nongovernmental organization that operated the museum, known officially as the Memorial Historical Center […]

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NEWSLINK International Business Times: Ukraine War Forces A Nation To Talk About A Taboo: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Many Ukrainians, including soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with a yearlong war that’s killed more than 6,000 people, are leery of going to psychologists. There is still a large stigma attached to seeking psychological care. Some of the field’s practitioners here see a connection to the legacy of Soviet medicine, which focused on treating external ailments, while psychology […]

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Is There a Feud Over a New Tsar in the Kremlin?

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald N. Jensen – April 1, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/analysis/politics/2217-is-there-a-feud-over-a-new-tsar-in-the-kremlin) Vladimir Putin’s ten-day absence from the public eye has become the most discussed event in Russia this past month, and also highlights the country’s crisis of governance. According to Donald Jensen, resident fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, keeping the increasingly […]

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Witness to Nemtsov murder to be summoned for police lineup – newspaper

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Apr 1 (Interfax) – Detectives investigating the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov intend to summon a main witness to his murder, Nemtsov’s Ukrainian girlfriend Hanna Durytska, for a police lineup, the newspaper Izvestia wrote on Wednesday. “Durytska made the acquaintance of Nemtsov three years ago and they stayed together almost all the time in the recent period, so she […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision: A month after the politician’s killing in Moscow there are signs of a Kremlin power struggle – and Russia’s president may soon have to take sides” – The Guardian – Shaun Walker in Moscow – March 29, 2015] The Guardian covers the aftermath of the Moscow assassination of former Deputy Prime Minister and […]

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Soviet-Era ‘Objective Truth’ Bill Would Imperil Presumption of Innocence

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-FarberMarch 27, 2015) A freshly introduced draft law proposing to redefine the roles of Russian judges has courted controversy among legal circles who fear that if adopted, the measure would endanger the presumption of innocence by blurring the lines between judges and prosecutors. State Duma Deputy Alexander Remezkov of the ruling United Russia submitted an […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: Russian Support For Democracy Just Hit The Lowest Level In More Than 20 Years

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

The invaluable Levada Center, Russia’s only genuinely independent polling agency, regularly conducts a survey about Russians’ attitudes towards the government, the economy, and the proper relationship between the state and its citizens. The 2015 results were just released, and it makes for rather depressing reading. Basically, right across the board, Russians have become substantially more statist and nationalist in their […]

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Interview with a murderer

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Ekaterina Loushnikova – March 25, 2015) Ekaterina Loushnikova is a radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov. There are currently 59,000 women in Russian penal establishments. For many of them prison is not so much a punishment, more a way of life. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are currently 671,700 Russians […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[“Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis with an acute lack of basic amenities and mental health problems taking a heavy toll” – The Guardian – Clár Ní Chonghaile -March 25, 2015] The Guardian reports on the humanitarian impact of conflict in eastern Ukraine. Just over a month after […]

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NEWSWATCH Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line – Doctors Without Borders – doctorswithoutborders.org – March 19, 2015] Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) relates experiences of civilians encountered during MSF’s humanitarian relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine. Since May 2014, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has supported around 100 medical facilities on both sides of the front line in Ukraine with medical supplies, in […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Chechen’s Ties to Putin Are Questioned Amid Nemtsov Murder Case

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya, has been at the center of intrigue surrounding the murder of Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent critic of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. So before a busy weekend that included a night out with the boys to watch cage fighting, Mr. Kadyrov wanted to clear something up. “I am utterly devoted […]

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Interfax: Best effort put into investigation of Nemtsov murder – Russia’s former minister

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, March 18, 2015) The investigation into the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov is regarding all possible theories of the crime using best law-enforcement practices, former Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has said. “I know what effort has been put in there and so far I cannot say that the investigation is on the wrong track,” Kudrin told […]

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NEWSWATCH: Foul stench in rebel-held east Ukraine as war hits water treatment

Faucet and Water Drop

[“Foul stench in rebel-held east Ukraine as war hits water treatment” – Reuters – Gabriela Baczynska – Donetsk, Ukraine, March 18, 2015] Reuters reports on damage to water treatment infrastructure in war-torn Ukraine. Fighting in east Ukraine has interfered with water treatment, producing a foul stench from the taps that aid workers say could bring health risks. * * * The water supply system […]

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