Russian TV Station Groundlessly Accuses Anti-War Protestor Of Being A Spy

Follow real-time updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

March 21, 2022 1:39 PM EDT

Switzerland Seizes Luxury Property Allegedly Belonging To Russian Billionaire Pyotr Aven

Swiss authorities have reportedly seized a luxury mountain home believed to belong to Russian billionaire Pyotr Aven, who’s said to be a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

forbes estimates Aven’s net worth at $4.4 billion. He stepped down earlier this month from his position as head of the Alfa Bank Group, Russia’s largest private sector bank.

Read more here.

Nicholas Reiman

March 21, 2022 1:36 PM EDT

Russia Bars Scientists From Attending Conferences Abroad

Russian scientists won’t be allowed to attend academic conferences outside the country this year, the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education announced Monday on its official Telegram account. Valery Falkov, Russia’s minister of science and higher education, said in the post the move is to protect Russia’s “national interests,” according to a translation from Russian news agency Interfax.

The ministry also announced publications will no longer be rated on their indexing on the Web of Science and Scopus international scientific databases, typically used worldwide as a measure of the quality of a publication’s research. Scientists will still be allowed to publish in international journals. Many have called for a publication ban for Russian authors from journals, though most journals have resisted doing so.

Derek Saul

March 21, 2022 12:28 PM EDT

Russian Court Labels Meta ‘Extremist’ Group In Facebook Ban

A Russian court on Monday formally banned Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram more than two weeks after the Russian government blocked access to them.

The court issued an immediate ban in response to a government lawsuit against Meta, ruling the company was engaging in “extremist” activities after temporarily allowing users in Ukraine to call for violence against Russian soldiers.

According to the New York Times, Meta is the first commercial entity Russia has designated an “extremist organization.” The label reportedly could mean jail time for displaying Facebook or Instagram logos in public and potential criminal charges for trading Meta stock.

Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp is not subject to a ban.

Nicholas Reiman

March 21, 2022 10:17 AM EDT

Russia Behind Fake Calls To Top UK Officials, Downing Street Says

Calls to top British officials from someone falsely claiming to be Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal were Kremlin-orchestrated attempts to spread disinformation, a Downing Street spokesman said Monday.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel were among those receiving calls last week, with Wallace saying Wednesday he “terminated the call” after receiving a series of “misleading questions.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office did not identify which Russian official it believed ordered the calls.

“This is standard practice for Russian information operations and disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there,” a spokesman said.

Nicholas Reiman

March 21, 2022 10:06 AM EDT

Ukraine Urges China To Mediate In Conflict

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, appealed to China to help mediate a “political solution” for Russia’s war on Ukraine in a Monday tweet. China has publicly maintained a neutral stance in the conflict thus far, but many interpret its actions as cozying up to Russia.

Despite repeatedly calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine, China has stopped short of condemning Russia and US intelligence suggested last week China was open to providing military aid to Russia. China has dismissed this claim, but refuses to commit to not sending military assistance to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Sunday China’s position on the war is “difficult to gauge” and “more or less neutral,” and expressed hope China would play a role in peace negotiations.

Derek Saul

March 21, 2022 8:15 AM EDT

Russian TV Station Baselessly Calls Anti-War Protestor Ovsyannikova A Spy

Channel One, the channel that Marina Ovsyannikova worked at before resigning on-air by protesting Russia’s war on Ukraine, responded to Ovsyannikova’s protest and subsequent international attention Monday by attacking Ovsyannikova’s motives for her protest. Kirill Kleimyonov, Channel One’s head of news, accused Ovsyannikova of being a British spy and said she “betrayed [her] country..for a bonus” in a Monday broadcast on the station, according to a translation from Max Seddon of the Financial Times.

There is no evidence that Ovsyannikova is a spy or was compensated for her protest. Meduza editor Kevin Rothrock pointed out the Channel One broadcast Monday showed uncensored images of Ovsyannikova’s anti-war poster, a potential violation of Russia’s new censorship law that punishes a characterization of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a war with up to 15 years in jail.

Russian authorities fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles ($287) last week for a video she posted to social media criticizing the Russian invasion but still may face further punishment for her on-air protest. Ovsyannikova has remained outspoken against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion, telling ABC Sunday, “It’s Putin’s war, not [the] Russian people’s was.”

Derek Saul

March 21, 2022 6:27 AM EDT

Photos Show Devastation Caused By Russian Strike On Kyiv Shopping Center

March 21, 2022 5:47 AM EDT

EU Warns That Ukrainian Children Face Risk Of Trafficking

Ukrainian children, both those who have fled the country or have been internally displaced following the Russian invasion, face the risk of being trafficked, the European Union’s migration commissioner Ylva Johansson has warned.

Johansson, speaking at a press conference in Estonia on Monday, said nearly half of the 3.3 million refugees who have fled Ukraine were children and “many more millions” may still leave the country, Reuters reported.

The EU official was particularly concerned about Ukraine’s high number of orphans and children born to surrogate mothers who have not been picked up by their parents. She warned that these children may be abducted or forcibly adopted.

— Siladitya Ray

March 21, 2022 5:10 AM EDT

Key Takeaways: Ukraine Refuses To Surrender Mariupol, Ammonia Gas Leak In Sumy

  • Ukrainian authorities rejected Russia’s demand to surrender the defeated city of Mariupol at 5 am on Monday, as Kyiv accused Russia of holding hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the city as hostages.
  • Officials in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy detected an ammonia gas leak early on Monday as Russian forces continued to shell a chemical plant on the outskirts of the city. The city itself was not in any immediate danger and emergency authorities are working to contain the leak.
  • At least eight people have been killed by a Russian missile attack on a major shopping center in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district late on Sunday. The attack caused a massive fire that appears to have completely gutted the shopping center building and local officials warn that the death toll is expected to rise.
  • The UK defense ministry in its daily intelligence update said that while Russia’s offensive operations remain stalled, Kyiv remains the key objective and Russian forces are likely to prioritize encircling the capital in the coming weeks.

— Siladitya Ray

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