News of the Day: 10 January 2021

RFE/RL: On December 29, the Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences held its annual New Year’s gathering for researchers and other employees. The institute’s director and his deputy duly greeted the crowd with traditional seasonal speeches and well-wishes. But at one point during the proceedings, an unknown man appeared on the dais. He calmly introduced himself as the institute’s “curator,” or resident agent, from the Federal Security Service (FSB). “We were absolutely petrified,” senior researcher Irina Levinkaya said. “No one expected anything like this, and we were all shocked by his openness. He wasn’t embarrassed at all to say openly that he was monitoring the institute for the FSB. It turns out, he’s been with us since September.” Levinskaya added that no one among the shocked employees had any questions for their resident agent.

RFE/RL: Exiled Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has accused Twitter of “an unacceptable act of censorship” in a thread arguing against that powerhouse private social network’s permanent ban on outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump after violence in Washington this week. The 44-year-old Kremlin foe warned in the 11-point thread that “this precedent will be exploited by enemies of freedom of speech around the world.” Navalny, who is in Germany after being flown there for emergency medical care from a poisoning in Russia in August, said that during his four-year term Trump “has been writing and saying very irresponsible things…[a]nd paid for it by not getting re-elected for a second term.” Critics say Trump has often used the platform to spread misinformation, hate, and incite violence, including unfounded accusations that the November election was “stolen.”

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