RUSSIALINK: “Russia Returns to UN Human Rights Council After 4-year Absence” – Moscow Times

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oct. 14, 2020) Russia has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) following a four-year absence, Moscow’s mission to the UN in Geneva announced Wednesday. Comprising 47 member states elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term, the HRC is responsible for addressing human rights violations and promoting the human rights […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Reported death toll in Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes about 600” – AP

Map of Azerbaijan and Environs, adapted from image at cia.gov

“The reported death toll in clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over … Nagorno-Karabakh has reached about 600 … [F]ighting continues despite a cease-fire …. More than two weeks of deadly clashes marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh … in Azerbaijan but … under control of ethnic Armenian[s] … backed by Armenia since the end of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Knives come out in the battle of borscht” – The Times (UK)/ Marc Bennetts

Borscht file photo adapted from image featured by peacecorps.gov

“A simmering dispute between Russia and Ukraine over the origins of bortsch could … boil over as Kiev prepares to apply for international recognition of its bragging rights to the warming beetroot soup. The Ukrainian culture ministry wants Unesco cultural heritage status for the dish in an attempt to settle the ‘bortsch war,’ started last year …  with some Ukrainians […]

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Thousands Back In Bishkek Streets Demanding ‘Clean’ Politicians For New Government

Bishkek file image, adapted from image at state.gov

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – BISHKEK, Oct. 7, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-fresh-protest-bishkek-clean-politicians-new-government/30880061.html) Thousands have headed back onto the streets in Kyrgyzstan as rival opposition factions look to gain power after violent mass protests forced the annulment of weekend election results over alleged vote buying and prompted the prime minister […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Security Guarantees for Armenia Don’t Extend to Karabakh, Putin Says” – Moscow Times

Map of Azerbaijan and Environs, adapted from image at cia.gov

Russia’s commitments to Armenia as part of a Moscow-led regional security bloc do not include the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region where fighting is raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan … Putin said […]

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Armenia-Azerbaijan War: Military Dimensions of the Conflict

Map of Azerbaijan and Environs, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Michael Kofman – Oct. 2, 2020) Michael Kofman is a senior research scientist and director of the Russia Studies program at CNA. On Sept. 27, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive, resulting in fighting that spans much of the line of contact in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is de facto occupied by Armenia. As of […]

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Pandemic has Pushed 6.1 Percent of Middle-Class Russians into Poverty, HSE Experts Say

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 26, 2020) The coronavirus pandemic has cut the incomes of 24 percent of the members of the Russian middle class and driven 6.1 percent of them into the ranks of the country’s poor, according to an analysis of Rosstat data by scholars at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. Before the pandemic, […]

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Russia Calls For A Global Response To The Oil Demand Crisis

Oil Wells file photo, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – Sept. 28, 2020) All players on the global energy market need to act together to tackle the effects of the pandemic on oil demand, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said at a virtual meeting of G20 energy ministers this weekend. “Our task, as the leaders of the energy industry, is to show stamina and solidarity […]

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RUSSIALINK: “What Is Russia’s Role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict?” – Moscow Times

Map of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus Environs Including Portions of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, Caspian Sea

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 28, 2020) At least 39 troops and civilians have been killed over the past two days in the worst clashes between foes Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2016. Fighting between the ex-Soviet republics over a decades-long territorial dispute threatens to embroil regional players Russia and Turkey. The United States, Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and […]

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Levada Poll: 1/2 of Russians Support Idea of ‘Russia for Russians,’ About 1/5 Would Not Let in Chinese, Ukrainians

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – Sept. 23, 2020) Slightly more than half (51%) of Russians either support implementing the idea of “Russia for [ethnic] Russians” or think it would be good to implement “within reasonable limits,” according to a Levada Center poll of 1,600 people in 137 localities across 50 of Russia’s 80-plus regions conducted Aug. 20-26, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Four Myths about Russian Grand Strategy” – Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)/ Robert Person

Satellite

“Myth #1: Russia’s grand strategy is driven by ideology …. Myth #2: Russia seeks to reconstruct the Soviet Union or Russian Empire. … Instead of a formal territorial empire … Russia endeavors to establish a privileged and exclusive sphere of influence across former Soviet territory. … [with] a seat at the table in the capital of every post-Soviet country. … […]

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The Quincy Institute seeks a Research Fellow on Europe and Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

From: Trita Parsi <trita@quincyinst.org> Date: Tue, Sep 22, 2020 Subject: The Quincy Institute seeks a Research Fellow on Europe and Russia The Quincy Institute, a restraint-based think tank in DC, is seeking a Russia researcher (see posting here: jobs.lever.co/quincyinst/676f756e-d16f-480c-8ebe-1ab39777eb31). As you may know, we are very worried about the threat-inflated image of Russia in Washington and support a more constructive […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia’s alliance with China is improbable, but not impossible” – Fondation pour la recherche stratégique/ Simon Saradzhyan

File Photo of Beijing Temple, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“Abstract: [A]re Russia and China already in a de facto military alliance (against the U.S.), or may they soon enter one? … [This article] reviews … academic literature on alignments … and alliances … infers criteria … [and] sets out to … [assess that] relationship …. Introduction[:]  The [Russia-China] relationship … is getting stronger …. Xi Jinping[] and … Putin[] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Warming shrinks Arctic Ocean ice to 2nd lowest on record” – AP

Cartoon Sun and Thermometer, adapted from cdc.gov

“… The extent of ice-covered ocean at the North Pole and extending further south to Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia reached its summertime low of 1.4 million square miles … last week before starting to grow again. Arctic sea ice reaches its low point in September and its high in March after the winter. This year’s melt is second only […]

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JRL NEWSLINK: “Stephen Cohen (1938-2020): Professor Emeritus, NYU Russian and Slavic Studies” – NYU Jordan Center/ Yanni Kotsonis

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

“Steve was hired to NYU after … Princeton. He was a masterful lecturer who packed in 400 students each time he taught his survey of Soviet history, and he helped keep alive Soviet and Russian studies at a time when interest was falling […]”

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On Russia’s Far Eastern Frontier, Vast Stretches Of Free Land, But Little Interest

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

… The Russian state has made 220 million hectares of land available under its program, double the total amount allotted under the Homestead Act. But only around 80,000 Russians have taken advantage. […]

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Levada: Russians Continue to View U.S. as Most Hostile, Belarus and China as Friendliest Allies

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – Sept. 17, 2020) The share of Russians with a good or very good attitude toward the U.S. remained steady at 42 percent from January to August 2020, as did the share of Russians who have a bad or very bad attitude toward the U.S. (46 percent), according to the Levada Center’s latest report […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Crumbling Power Vertical: Decreasing Disposable Income Drives Discontentment” – PONARS Eurasia

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Accumulating evidence points at prospects of growing destabilization at the regional level in Russia. In 2019, five consecutive years of economic stagnation ignited a wave of protests across the country. In 2020, as Russia’s economic situation worsened dramatically due to a pandemic-driven halt to economic activity combined with a fall in oil prices, support for Kremlin appointees might start crumbling […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Faces Test of Voters With Poisoned Critic in Hospital” – Bloomberg/ Henry Meyer

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“With his most prominent critic hit by a near-fatal poisoning that opponents and the West blame on the Kremlin … Putin faces a key test of support in regional elections ahead of a national vote next year. About a third of the electorate is eligible to vote … over three days … to choose representatives at different levels … in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s 2020 elections hotspots; A semblance of real political competition makes the upcoming vote worth following in several regions” – Meduza

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

“… [On Sunday,] residents of 18 regions … elect governors, another 11 regions … vote for local parliamentary deputies, and 22 regional capitals … hold city council elections. In several regions … results may not be in favor of … [ruling powers] in spite of … three-day voting rules, which can create increased opportunities for manipulating … election results. … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Regional Elections, Explained” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 11, 2020) Russians are heading to the polls through Sunday to elect new regional and city leadership. In a year that has seen a global pandemic, weeks of anti-Kremlin protests in the Far East and historically low approval ratings for President Vladimir Putin, the vote is set to be a key test for the […]

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Russians Increasingly Say Their Country is Becoming Both More Authoritarian and Less Stable, Levada Center Survey Reports

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 9, 2020) The share of Russians who think that their country is becoming more authoritarian or a dictatorship has risen from nine percent in 2015 to 17 percent now, according to Levada Center polls. At the same time, the portion who believe that the country suffers from a loss of order […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Richest Man Owns More Melting Arctic Than Anyone” – Bloomberg/ Yuliya Fedorinova, Laura Millan Lombrana

Cartoon Sun and Thermometer, adapted from cdc.gov

“Vladimir Potanin’s sprawling Siberian mining operations make him the billionaire most exposed to the permafrost crisis.” “Vladimir Potanin, one of the [world’s] 50 richest people … stood awkwardly on … Siberian tundra near … remote mining city … Norilsk. … less than a week since a spill[,] … one of Russia’s worst [Arctic] disasters …, caused … by an aging […]

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RUSSIALINK: “What is Nord Stream 2 and Why Might Navalny’s Poisoning Stop Its Completion?” – Moscow Times

Gas Flame file photo

The confirmation that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok has heightened calls for Germany to review its support for Nord Stream 2 […]

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Emergency situation: the slow-moving tragedy of the Russian Arctic

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

Melting permafrost, oil spills, collapsing infrastructure, abandoned towns: Russia’s far north is heading for social, economic and ecological disaster. (opendemocracy.net – Sofia Gavrilova – August 27, 2020) Sofia Gavrilova is a geographer and works in the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig. [Text with photos opendemocracy.net/en/odr/russia-arctic-monotowns/] “The asbestos factory closed last year. The crushed stone plant is closing this year. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Upgrades Economic Outlook on Strong Data; The hit to GDP is expected to be less severe than first thought.” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Aug. 31, 2020) The Russian government expects the coronavirus to inflict significantly less damage on the country’s economy than it first feared. The Economy Ministry is now predicting GDP will fall by 3.9% in 2020, up from its previous forecast of a 5% contraction, Kommersant reported Monday. Russia’s economy has not taken as big a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “NES [New Economic School] rector Ruben Yenikolopov: Negative impact of pandemic might be far greater than just drop in GDP [Excerpt]” – Interfax

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Aug. 23, 2020) The Russian economy is weathering the trials of the pandemic relatively well so far, with key macro indicators, at any rate, looking better than in many other countries. But statistics can be deceiving. Firstly, they cannot record changes fast enough and, secondly, not all the repercussions for the economy have been felt yet and they […]

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Khabarovsk Protesters Add Concern for Navalny to Demands [For] Furgal’s Return and Putin’s Ouster

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

… [T]housands … came into the streets of Khabarovsk … to reiterate … demands … their elected governor be restored … and Putin [removed] … [and, now, additionally] to express … solidarity with opposition leader Aleksey Navalny who remains in a coma […]

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‘No More than 10’ Russian Regions Now Providing Accurate Coronavirus Data, Mathematical Analysis Shows

Covid-19 Coronavirus file photo, adapted from image at cdc.gov

Over the last month, regions including Moscow are reporting figures that reflect what their leaders have promised but that are improbable when subjected to mathematical analysis […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Administration Seeks Pre-Election Win on Nuclear Arms Deal with Russia” – Time/ John Walcott

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea met with [Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov] … in Vienna to discuss extending the … New START agreement … [currently limiting] long-range weapons ….  [with the U.S. seeking to make New START extension] a first step toward limiting … entire nuclear arsenals … backed by rare bipartisan consensus on […]

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Russians Don’t Know Geography of Their Own Country or That of Others, VTsIOM Finds

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 19, 2020) In Soviet times, schools devoted a great deal of attention to geography and especially to how much larger the USSR was than any other country and where its natural wealth was located. But since 1991, such instruction appears to have taken a back seat to other subjects at least […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia should rethink its role in new energy economy” – The National (UAE)/ Robin Mills

Gas Flame file photo

“Global gas market remains oversupplied and renewables only makes up a small part of the country’s energy mix.” “Russia’s energy sector has so far come through the pandemic better than some might have expected. … Opec+ … has shored up oil revenue and the rouble. But [Russia’s] longer-term outlook is cloudy, both in petroleum and its unstrategic approach to new […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov: Chances to extend New START Treaty aren’t great, but they haven’t dried up yet” – Interfax

File Photo of Stealth Bomber in Flight

(Interfax – Aug. 18, 2020 – interfax.com/newsroom/exclusive-interviews/69585/) Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has given an interview to Interfax correspondent Ksenia Baygarova, in which he speaks about the results of the second round of strategic stability consultations in Vienna, chances to extend the New START Treaty and comments on calls by the United States not to interfere in the situation […]

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Exposing Putin’s Hidden Riches Won’t Stop Russia’s Election Meddling

Multilingual Polling Place Sign from U.S. Election Polling Place

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Lincoln Pigman – Aug. 19, 2020) Lincoln Pigman is a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Center and an alumnus of King’s College London’s Department of War Studies and Oxford University’s School of Global and Area Studies. Four years have passed since the alarm was first raised about Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections, from its […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Administration Shifts Course on Russian Arms Talks, Easing Insistence China Join Now” – Wall Street Journal/ Michael R. Gordon

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“New strategy aims at a framework agreement with Russia, possible pre-election meeting with Putin.” “… the Trump administration signaled … that it will seek to negotiate a separate framework agreement with Moscow and move to bring Beijing on board later. … [which] could open the door for an election-year arms control understanding with Moscow — and possibly a meeting between […]

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Is This The Next Major Market For Russian LNG?

Gas Flame file photo

(oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – Aug. 17, 2020) Russia’s ambitious LNG plans have so far based on two producing assets – the Gazprom-operated Sakhalin LNG and the NOVATEK-operated Yamal LNG. The addition of Yamal LNG into its portfolio has helped to boost its clout (growing from 4% of global LNG trade to 8% currently) yet the actual numbers of assets […]

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RUSSIALINK: “As Discontent Grows at Home, Russia’s Opposition Is Watching Belarus” – Moscow Times

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Despite massive protests continuing in the Far East, all eyes in Russia are on its western neighbor. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – Aug. 18, 2020) During his weekly YouTube talk show Thursday, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny summed up how Russia’s opposition feels about the protests that are raging on either end of the post-Soviet space with one […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Doesn’t Want to Intervene in Belarus. That’s an Opportunity for the West.” – Moscow Times/ Anna Arutunyan

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“It’s certainly not too soon for Moscow and Brussels to learn from past mistakes.” “… Now, the time has come, largely through Lukashenko’s own undoing, but also, in part, thanks to a perfect storm of the pandemic, a stagnating economy, and Moscow’s growing weariness with subsidizing Belarus and playing cat and mouse with an ally turned frenemy. Lukashenko may well […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia invade Belarus?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Russia has a lot more to lose than to gain from an annexation of Belarus. But it will be hard to lose anything in a post-Lukashenko Belarus” “… Lukashenko … [said] he would ask … Putin to help Belarus ‘restore order[,]’ … [that] protests ‘threaten the whole former Soviet space’ …. [Social media] [v]ideo … show[s] Russian army trucks … […]

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Russia Tightens Tax Screws on Super Wealthy

The Kremlin … secured major changes to Russia’s double-tax treaty with Cyprus, where last year oligarchs and Russian corporations deposited $25 billion in the island’s banks, avoiding higher taxes in Russia […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Covid-19 mass vaccination in Russia may start in Dec.-Jan. – Gamaleya Center director” – Interfax

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

A Covid-19 mass vaccination campaign may start in Russia in December-January, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry, said […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Does Lukashenko have enough forces to oppress the entire country?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko normally relies on some 10,000 security forces to enforce his control, but with 100,000s of people on the street that number is woefully inadequate now.” “… Pictures … show[] detainees sitting on … school gym[] [floors] … hands crossed over their heads … [with] jails … overflowing. The strongman of the last 26 years can’t arrest […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Economy Shrank 8.5% in Second Quarter – Official Data; Fall in GDP is less severe than government and Central Bank feared” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s economy contracted … 8.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, the state statistics agency [Rosstat] said … in its first assessment of the impact of … coronavirus and an oil crisis. GDP fell in ‘all areas of the economy except agriculture’ … Rosstat … said …, with passenger transport down 79% and the services industry down 37.2% The sharp drop […]

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RUSSIALINK: “FSIN reports another record drop in Russian prison population” – Interfax

Russia Map

MOSCOW. Aug 13 (Interfax) – The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has reported another drop in the population of Russian penitentiaries and pretrial detention facilities. “The number of imprisoned convicts, suspects and defendants is at all-time low,” the FSIN press bureau said in a statement seen by Interfax on Thursday. The number of incarcerated persons has reduced to less than 500,000 […]

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