Hello, dear readers!
On Wednesday night, Russia launched 48 drones across Ukraine, shooting down 41 of them, with no damage reported on those that weren’t shot down. There is no news from the fronts, as well as news from the American Congress: the head of Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, speaking in Washington, said that delay in providing further military assistance increases the risk of Ukraine losing the war; US President Joe Biden called the behavior of Congress “madness” and called lawmakers to approve aid to Kyiv before Christmas. From the funds remaining at the Pentagon, the United States is allocating a new package of military assistance to Ukraine for $175 million – it will include ammunition for air defense systems and HIMARS MLRS.
Former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ilya Kiva was found murdered in the Moscow region, who immediately after the start of a full-scale war fled to Russia, where he began to actively participate in propaganda television shows (for which he received a sentence in absentia in his homeland) – Ukrainian media sources claim that the SBU is behind the liquidation of Kiva . In Russian-occupied Lugansk, a deputy of the so-called “People’s Council of the LPR” Oleg Popov was killed in a car explosion – Ukrainian sources insist that this was also the work of the SBU.
Eight children abducted in the occupied territory were returned to Ukraine from Russia, and six more were returned the day before. The body of a 15-year-old Ukrainian woman, wounded by the Russian military at the beginning of the invasion during an attempt to evacuate from the Kyiv region, remained in the Mozyr morgue for many months – the family searched for the girl in several countries.
The Nepalese police detained ten people suspected of illegally recruiting residents of the country into the Russian army: they took nine thousand dollars from “volunteers” to deliver them to Moscow, where a contract for military service was already signed with them. As the BBC Russian Service found out, migrants who did not get to Finland from Russia are also recruited into the Russian army under the threat of expulsion, but this opportunity does not arouse much enthusiasm among them (Finland is going to open a checkpoint on the border with Russia on December 14 – but will close them again if the flow of refugees resumes).
A court in Moscow upheld Oleg Deripaska’s claim against Olga Romanova: she must refute the claim on her social networks that Deripaska owns several private military companies. Here are conversations with women who run the “Way Home” telegram channel – through it the fight for the return of military personnel mobilized more than a year ago from the front is coordinated.
In Russia, they are increasingly talking about the need for peaceful negotiations with Ukraine, and Hungary is named as the most convenient mediator – why such conversations are being held, Russian and Ukrainian political scientists explain here.
Meanwhile in Russia
Towards the elections. Today, the Federation Council is expected to call presidential elections for March 17, 2024. The co-chairman of the movement for the rights of voters “Voice” Grigory Melkonyants’ arrest was extended until April 17: according to the lawyer, the Investigative Committee wants him to be in a pre-trial detention center at the time of the elections. Journalist Ekaterina Duntsova, who announced her intention to run for the presidency of Russia, had her transfers blocked by VTB Bank as soon as she approached her supporters with a request for financial support. Legislative. The State Duma finally banned the use of mobile phones in school lessons and made labor a compulsory subject. Here is an analysis of a bill introduced to the State Duma that would provide for ten-year sentences for journalists who base their investigations on databases that have leaked online. They plan to introduce a bill banning abortions in private clinics to the State Duma in the spring session – while work is being carried out in the regions: the governor of the Kursk region proposed to his legislators to introduce fines for “inducing” abortions. Around Navalny. Rosfinmonitoring labeled Navalny and his closest associates as “involved in terrorism” – previously they were only involved in extremist activities. The colony administration confiscated from Navalny a statement prepared by a lawyer about a visit to the dentist as “containing signs of preparation of a crime.” Alexei’s lawyer waited in the colony for seven hours, but he was never allowed to see his client – Navalny’s associates say that this has never happened before. Other criminality. A blogger from Buryatia was charged with incitement to terrorism because of a video about mobilization: in the video he says that “today the old shit announced mobilization,” which is why many in Buryatia “want to set fire to military registration and enlistment offices.” The Court of Cassation overturned the sentence of Alexey Moskalev, convicted under the article on “discrediting” the army – the case was sent for a new trial, and even the lawyer does not yet understand why. National economic. “Layout” found a yacht worth more than a billion rubles from the governor of the Primorsky Territory Oleg Kozhemyako. In St. Petersburg, the building of the Conservatory, where reconstruction has been going on for several years, was on fire; In Buryatia, a Tu-204 cargo plane caught fire during takeoff.
Around the world
The Israel Defense Forces are engaged in fierce fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, one of the largest weapons caches of all time has been destroyed, and the home of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is surrounded. Southern Israel was again subjected to rocket attacks, and a long-range missile, presumably launched from Yemen, flew into Eilat. The IDF claims to have found tunnels and bomb-making laboratories in the West Bank. How Israeli Arabs live against the backdrop of war is described here. Putin traveled to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and today he will receive a delegation from Iran in Moscow. In Abu Dhabi, the Russian president was greeted by military camels, a guard of honor and a sky the color of the Russian flag. The G7 countries have agreed on a ban on the import of Russian diamonds, which will take effect on January 1. Time will tell whether it will be effective. The price ceiling on Russian oil, introduced a year ago, did not turn out to be that way: according to Bloomberg estimates, Russia spent $11 billion over the year to circumvent this ceiling (only in October it earned more from oil sales). The UK imposed sanctions against the creator of the Lancet drones and the chief designer of the Soyuz plant, where rocket engines are produced – in total, 46 individuals and legal entities were subject to restrictions. Avtozak Live calls on the governments of democratic countries to impose sanctions against Russian judges who pass convictions for anti-war speeches: human rights activists have a list of one hundred such judges. Two of Roman Abramovich’s children received Lithuanian passports and used them to help their father circumvent sanctions, according to an OCCRP investigation. Probably, the basis for the receipt was the Lithuanian origin of the ancestors (Abramovich’s grandfather and grandmother were citizens of Lithuania before its occupation by the USSR). After the investigation was released, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Lithuania instructed the Migration Department to establish which of the sanctioned persons and their relatives received citizenship of the country. US authorities have opened a criminal case against four Russian soldiers – they are accused of kidnapping and torturing an American in the Kherson region of Ukraine. According to the American publication Politico, former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang committed suicide or died after torture. At least three people were killed in a shooting on the University of Nevada campus on Wednesday. The attacker was killed – it was a professor who was not hired at the university. Nicolas Maduro introduced a bill to parliament to create a new state of Venezuela from the annexed territory of Guyana. Read more about the new adventure of the Venezuelan president here.
Conversations about daily matters. A conversation with historian and literary critic Andrei Zorin about the responsibility of Russian literature for modern Russian politics, about the different facets of empire and the main mistake of the leftist project. Or an interview with the leader of the cult Swedish group Army of Lovers, philosopher and gay Alexander Bard about the LGBT movement, the inevitability of a bright future and a digital Russia without Putin. Poets-anniversaries. An essay about Tyutchev – for the 220th anniversary of the birth of the reactionary poet. Or a story about the life and work of Oleg Grigoriev (1943–1992), a successful children’s poet who ended his life as the main Leningrad underground fringe. Nonsense. Two fragments from the book by psychologist Stuart Ritchie “Scientific Nonsense. Exposing Fraud, Bias, Dishonesty, and Hype in Science (Corpus): the first questioning the “indefatigable positivity” of scientific publishing, and the second addressing the crisis of reproducibility.