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#AceNewsRoom With ‘Kindness & Wisdom’ June.23, 2022 @acebreakingnews
The Real Russia. Today. Russia releases paramedic Yulia ‘Taira’ Paevska, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin tries to keep the war from his city, and Estonia says NATO’s defense plan would leave the Baltics in ruins: Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2022
In today’s newsletter:
- Latest news
- The Kremlin’s fans struggle to process the release of captured Ukrainian paramedic Yulia “Taira” Paevska
- The increasingly challenging work of promoting women’s rights in Chechnya
- Why Moscow’s mayor wants to keep his city and himself out of the war
- “Borjomi for Borjomanians!”
Major recent events
- 💰 Money for both sides: Russian YouTuber Evgeny Bazhenov (better known as BadComedian) announced on Wednesday that he’s donated his latest monetization proceeds to civilians “on both sides” of the conflict in Ukraine (noncombatants in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as well as in Ukrainian-controlled Ukraine), adding that he refuses to divide civilians into “right and wrong.”
- 🔍 The death of Maks Levin: Reporters Without Borders says it has evidence that Russian soldiers executed journalist Maks Levin in a forest near Kyiv on March 13. “The evidence against the Russian forces is overwhelming,” the NGO said in a summary (though the report itself says “hypothesis number one” is that Russian soldiers shot Levin after mistaking him for a Ukrainian soldier due to his blue armband, before firing two more bullets into his head when he was on the ground, possibly after he’d already died).
- ⚖️ Nacke’s arrest stands: In a hearing closed to the public, a Moscow court rejected journalist and blogger Michael Nacke’s attempt to challenge his arrest (in absentia) in the felony case against him for spreading “disinformation” about Russia’s military. (Nacke now lives abroad.) The judge ruled that Nacke’s “arrest” is necessary to “ensure heightened security measures and prevent the disclosure of information about the case’s defendant.”
- 🛡️ Tense times for the Baltic states: Estonia’s Defense Ministry has accused Russia of holding training exercises that include simulations of missile strikes against targets inside Estonia. Tallinn also says Russian helicopters have violated Estonian airspace repeatedly throughout June, ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Madrid. Also on Wednesday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told reporters that NATO’s existing defense plans for a Russian invasion of the three Baltic states is to “allow them to be overrun” before liberating them after 180 days.
- 🏖️ Tomorrow’s holiday getaway: Russia’s invasion has reduced Mariupol’s Azovstal iron and steel works to rubble (like much of the city), but Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin says the factory’s old grounds will enjoy a second life as an “industrial park or a recreation area.” He claims the city’s population will rebound to 500,000 by 2035.
- 💱 Russia’s default, probably-maybe-definitely: Vladimir Putin signed an executive order on Wednesday that allows Russia to use rubles to pay its foreign-currency-denominated sovereign debt. The government has 10 days to choose the banks for this new payment scheme, which the West is sure to reject, prompting declarations that Russia is in default.
- 🛂 Held up at the Finnish border: Filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (the director of movies like “Russian Ark” and “Faust”) says he was barred from leaving Russia to attend a conference in Milan. Border guards apparently claimed to be enforcing pandemic-related restrictions on exiting the country through ground checkpoints. (Sokurov was trying to reach a flight that departed from Helsinki.) Last December, the filmmaker seemingly enraged Vladimir Putin during a virtual meeting when he warned the president that the nation faces a constitutional crisis and suggested that Moscow should jettison certain regions of the country from the Russian Federation.
⛑️ Release of famous Ukrainian paramedic Yulia Paevska leaves pro-Kremlin blogosphere confused (6-min read)
On the evening of June 17, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukrainian paramedic Yulia “Taira” Paevska had been released from Russian captivity. Paevska has long been hailed as a hero in Ukraine, known for saving hundreds of lives as a volunteer medic in the Donbas. At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Paevska spent more than two weeks evacuating the wounded in besieged Mariupol (the harrowing footage from her body camera was later published by the Associated Press). After Russian troops captured Paevska on March 16, pro-Kremlin media began smearing her as a “Nazi” and accusing her of terrible crimes. As a result, news of Paevska’s release sent the rumor churning once again as pro-Kremlin bloggers wondered how it was even possible for Russia to let her go.
🛫 More women are trying to escape violence and persecution in Chechnya. But fleeing to Moscow is no longer enough to ensure their safety. (9-min read)
In 2017, thanks to an investigation by independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the world learned about the repressions queer people face in the North Caucasus. Stories of torture and kidnappings appeared on the homepage of the New York Times, and Vladimir Putin had no choice but to comment. Soon, people began evacuating from Chechnya. The majority of evacuees in the first wave were men, but human rights advocates have since seen an increase in the number of requests from women, not all of them LGBT+. To learn more about the threats women face in Chechnya, Meduza spoke to two human rights advocates and two Chechen women who managed to escape.
🙈 In Russia’s capital, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin tries to distance himself — and his city — from the war against Ukraine (7-min read)
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has precious little to say about Russia’s war against Ukraine. Over the past four months of the full-scale invasion, he has hardly made any public statements about the progress and consequences of the so-called “special operation.” Meanwhile, his counterparts in other regions (like St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov, for example) have been toeing the line and parroting Kremlin propaganda narratives about “fighting Nazis” in Ukraine. As Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev learned, Sobyanin has instead “buried himself” in work in the Russian capital and is deliberately trying to distance himself from the war. Here’s why.
🏭 When the Russian owner of a Georgian bottling plant came under sanctions, workers stopped getting paid. Now they’re fighting back. (7-min read)
A protest rally in Borjomi on June 16
In late April, the Georgian company IDS Borjomi, which sells mineral water under the brand name Borjomi, announced it was temporarily suspending operations at both of its bottling plants in Georgia due to financial difficulties resulting from the war in Ukraine. Oligarch Mikhail Fridman, owner of the Alfa Group, which owns a majority stake in the company, had come under sanctions. Now Alfa Group plans to donate its shares to Georgia — but this hasn’t helped the plants’ employees, who haven’t been paid in two months. Meduza takes a closer look at the town of Borjomi, where protests are ongoing.
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