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Ace News Room Cutting Floor 03/06/2022

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The Real Russia. Today. Russia starts blocking VPNs, the Kremlin skirts the war’s 100th day, and an interview with economist Andrei Yakovlev: Published Thursday, June 2, 2022

In today’s newsletter:

  • The latest news
  • How to access VPNs blocked in Russia
  • The Kremlin tries not to draw attention to the war’s 100th day
  • A Russian soldier fighting to pay for surgery dies in Ukraine
  • The rise and fall of Moscow’s GES-2 arts center
  • Economist Andrei Yakovlev on Russia’s ruling coalition and more

Major recent events in Russia and Ukraine

  • 🇪🇺 EU sanctions, part six: The EU has agreed on a final version of its sixth sanctions package against Russia. In addition to a ban on sea-shipped oil, sanctions will remove Sberbank from the SWIFT banking platform. At Hungary’s request, the list of newly sanctioned individuals will not include Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill. The sanctions are set to come into effect tomorrow (June 3).
  • 🌾 Not theirs to take: Volodymyr Saldo, the head of Russia’s occupation government in Ukraine’s Kherson region, said that the majority of this year’s harvest from Kherson’s farmers will be sent to Russia. Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s occupation government in the Zaporizhzhia region issued a decree on the nationalization of Ukrainian property, RIA Novosti reported.
  • 💰 Turkey and Lithuania pitch in: Turkey announced it will donate a Bayraktar TB2 drone to the Ukrainian military, allowing the over five million euros gathered by Lithuanian citizens for the weapon to be used for humanitarian aid. The Lithuanian Defense Ministry tweeted that it would “ensure that this combat drone is fully armed prior to its transfer to Ukraine.”
  • 🌐 Don’t tell them they can edit it themselves: Russia’s censorship agency Roskomnadzor demanded that Wikipedia delete two articles about events in the war in Ukraine: “Battle of Kharkiv (2022)” and “The use of phosphorous bombs during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” According to Roskomnadzor, the articles contain “inaccurate information about civilian casualties and attacks on civilian targets,” as well as false information about the death of Russian soldiers. The agency gave Wikipedia one day to delete the articles.
  • 🇩🇪 Merkel speaks out: Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the first time. Merkel called the events a “barbaric war” that must be brought to an end as soon as possible. She said she stands in solidarity with Ukraine and supports Ukrainians’ right to defend their country.
  • 🚨 A fifth of Ukraine occupied: Addressing Luxembourg’s Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia has occupied about 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory. “Almost 125,000 square kilometers [ 48,000 square miles]. That’s significantly more than the territory of all of the Benelux countries put together,” said Zelensky.

🔓 Meduza’s brief guide to accessing VPNs blocked by the Russian authorities (2-minute read) 

On Tuesday, Russia’s censorship agency confirmed that it is working to block VPN services that allegedly “violate Russian law.” Given the high degree of Internet censorship in Russia today, many people rely on VPNs (virtual private networks) to circumvent online blocks. As of this writing, users in Russia already report problems accessing several services, including ProtonVPN, Lantern, and Outline VPN. If you’re experiencing problems with your VPN in Russia right now, Meduza explains what you can do about it here.

📺 Meduza sources say the Kremlin told state media ‘not to focus attention’ on the war’s 100th day (5-minute read)

Tomorrow, June 3, will mark 100 days since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On the eve of this milestone, sources tell Meduza that Putin’s administration has “asked” state-controlled and pro-Kremlin media outlets “not to focus attention” on the duration of the “special military operation.” Meduza’s sources say this is an attempt to elide the fact that Russian troops haven’t been able to make significant gains after more than three months of war.

🪦 A Russian man with a facial birth defect joined the military to pay for plastic surgery. He died in Ukraine. (2.5-minute read)

Anton Fedoseyev, a 21-year-old from Russia’s Leningrad region, died after coming under artillery fire in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in May 2022. Fedoseyev was born with a birth defect that affected his face and had long dreamed of getting plastic surgery. He signed a contract with the army to earn money to pay for the operation. He spoke to Sever Realii, a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, before his death. Meduza summarizes his story here.

🏛️ Russia’s most audacious cultural project in recent years, GES-2, opened in Moscow last December. On February 24, its future was forever altered. (21-minute read)

A queue for admission to GES-2. April 14, 2022.

Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

Six months ago, GES-2, an arts and culture center housed in a decommissioned Moscow power station, opened on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Embankment. It was the brainchild of Leonid Mikhelson, one of Russia’s richest businessmen, and was initially headed by Italian curator Teresa Iarocci Mavica. The building, which was originally built in 1907, was reconstructed by influential architect Renzo Piano. In December 2021, after seven years of design and construction work followed by a private showing for Vladimir Putin, the center was officially opened to the public. GES-2 instantly became the center of Moscow’s cultural life — until Russia launched its all-out war against Ukraine. Cut off from the West, the institution found itself in isolation, while its philosophy suddenly appeared incompatible with Russia’s new reality. The staff, from curators to executives, began to resign. Ksenia Korobeynikova, an art critic and author of the Ku-ku Telegram channel, spoke to Meduza about the center’s uncertain prospects.

🧠 Economist Andrei Yakovlev on the nature of Russia’s ruling coalition — and why elites have failed to stop the war(24-minute read)

It’s been more than three months since Russia invaded Ukraine and there haven’t been any major resignations from the Russian government. Indeed, no top officials have publicly spoken out against the war. Meduza spoke to the economist and Gaidar Prize laureate Andrei Yakovlev about what Russia’s elites are thinking, why they aren’t trying to influence the President, where the war is headed, and why the ruling class replacement system fell apart as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: June.03: 2022:

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